. . . as Bill Denbrough might say.

The much-anticipated remake of Stephen King’s coulrophobic classic did not disappoint! In fact, IT (2017) is the most exciting retelling—dare we say in at least 27 years?

True to the original novel and the 1990 TV miniseries, IT assembles the best kid cast since Stand by Me (Yes, we’ve seen Stranger Things) and avoids useless updates like changes in race or gender. Two members of The Losers Club, later known as Lucky 7, were packing personality punches we knew they had in them all along.

Sophia Lillis plays a more mature, less wholesome version of Beverly Marsh, but before you start worrying about Bevvy—worrying a lot—we assure you IT’s producers did not do to Bevvy what Rob Zombie did to Laurie Strode and her gal pals. A few F-bombs are harmlessly and hilariously tossed by quick-witted Richie Tozier, whose eccentricities are effortlessly brought to life by Stranger Things sensation Finn Wolfhard. The real surprise is Jack Dylan Grazer whose version of Eddie Kapsbrak is less frail and more delightfully neurotic. He still has his inhaler—along with a fanny pack and a backup fanny pack—but he eagerly sheds the shackles of hypochondria that were placed on him by his controlling mother.

Speaking of fanny packs …

One savvy switch-up for today’s audiences was the shift from the 1950s to the 1980s. The vocabulary was never gratuitously grody, and the wardrobe didn’t pop like a neon Wham shirt. The homages are apt and unexpected. Bully Henry Bowers sports a mullet versus the greaser style, but every look, every bit of language, and every location contribute to the doomed, small-town setting that resonates throughout time with King’s fans. Isn’t that what a great story—in all ITs adaptions and iterations—is supposed to do?

In his book On Writing, King says there is no “Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of Buried Bestsellers.” He indicates that creative writing is almost a fallacy, and the only way to make something new under the sun is to bring previously unrelated ideas together in one’s own way. King did that in the novel IT, telling a familiar story of childhood fears and friendships that featured killer clown Pennywise, whose very name is a juxtaposition of the basic and the complex.

King is said to have told director Andy Muschietti he loved the licenses they took with IT (2017). Indeed, his New Line team does an incredible job of strengthening the house that Freddy built—and subsequently tarnished—with the Nightmare on Elm Street remake. They cut some things that perhaps weren’t worth repeating like the giant spider. Catch phrases like Beep beep, Richie are given a tap rather than a pounding, and concepts like the “deadlights” are shown rather than spoken. Scenes like the one in which Beverly’s sink spews blood are amped up to wow big screen audiences, but effect never overpowers story. Emotion is not an afterthought as demonstrated by Jaeden Lieberher’s (as Bill Denbrough) memorable monologue that inspires the gang to help him fight the monster that killed his little brother Georgie.

So many will be writing this week about Bill Skarsgård’s enthralling performance as Pennywise, our comments are unnecessary. Simply put, he was undeniable in the gritty Netflix series Hemlock Grove, but even with a family pedigree that includes brother Alexander (Eric Northman of True Blood), Deadwest and I didn’t expect him to make the horror hall of fame this fast. As a side note, their famous dad, Stellan, once delivered a line that explains why many victims become just that. Portraying a serial killer in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, he says that people’s fear of offending is often greater than their fear of pain. Remember that the next time a stranger with a funny face offers you a balloon, Scream Freaks!

DW and I are heading to the casting couch now to choose our fantasy line-up for the IT sequel that will have the Lucky 7 fighting the monster again as adults. Check back for more on that, and if you haven’t already, go get the sh-IT scared out of you at your local theater this week!

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